Booksmart (2019) Review

Booksmart (2019)

Directed by Olivia Wilde

Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Booksmart stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as two graduating high school girls who set out to finally break the rules and party on their last day of classes.

My Opinion:

I was really looking forward to this movie after the huge amount of hype on Film Twitter. And even though I’m WAY beyond my teenage years, I’ll always love a good teen movie. Of course I will; I grew up on John Hughes! I think there have been some very good coming of age movies in recent years, which will probably forever be a favorite sub genre of mine thanks to Stand By Me being a favorite film from my own teen years. But I do tend to prefer the more serious teen films, such as The Edge Of Seventeen & The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, to the full-on comedies such as Booksmart. Maybe that’s why I found this movie slightly disappointing? I don’t know. I’m not a huge fan of straightforward comedies. This movie really just is the female version of Superbad, which I found quite average and only occasionally funny. I do think Booksmart is the better film, but only slightly. Weird that Jonah Hill’s sister, Beanie Feldstein, is in what I see as the female version of his movie…

Do I dare bring this up or will I get in trouble? Screw it – I’m female. I think, as there’s such a push for female directors now, some of their movies are getting overhyped. Guess what? One woman directed AND wrote The Edge Of Seventeen, which is a much better film. Why was nothing said of that? Because, just a few years ago when that came out, everyone wasn’t so focused on being so damn outraged over everything. You know what else is a much better and far funnier film than Booksmart? Clueless. Waaaay back in the dark ages of 1995 yet also directed and written by just one woman. Know what else is a fantastic film and female as f*^k? Waitress (2007), directed and written by the lovely Adrienne Shelly. If she was alive & that film had come out now, it would be up for some damn Oscars. So, yeah, female-led films are being overhyped now as they were so often unfairly dismissed in the past. I get it. I do. But Booksmart is just… Okay.

I promise I’ll shut up in a minute. I’m not going to get into a big discussion on female directors or how much I f*^king love Wayne’s World & Point Break. I’m really happy that women do finally seem to be getting more opportunities to direct now and I know I’ll absolutely love some of their films and may be able to relate to them more. I just wish that they’d been given more recognition in the past because there have been better films than Lady Bird made by women over the years (good but not Best Picture material – Hell, The Edge Of Seventeen was better). So. Booksmart is fun and I did laugh at times but it’s no better (and no worse) than similar films made by men such as Judd Apatow. If you like the Seth Rogen-type comedies but not Booksmart (and vice versa), that makes no sense and you probably ARE sexist. Because it’s the exact same type of movie. Whatever. I’m just sick of people getting hung up on who directs or stars in a movie. Who cares? I just like good characters & writing. I want to be entertained. *Rant over*

Should I actually talk about the movie?! Sorry! I do go off on one sometimes. I won’t once again get started on female-starring comedies always getting far lower ratings than male-starring comedies so I admit that sexism clearly does sadly still exist, especially when it comes to comedy for some strange reason. I don’t personally like either film AT ALL but there’s no f*^king WAY that The Hangover deserves a higher IMDb rating than Bridesmaids. I swear people get a little weird about women daring to be raunchy too. I like raunchy women, dammit, and I like that Booksmart manages to be raunchy but intelligent & realistic about it. Maybe that’s why it’s being more readily accepted? I’m not comparing it to Bridesmaids – it’s definitely a much better film. I don’t like “shock” comedy and Booksmart is more the kind of humor that I go for.

I think the problem is that some of its humor doesn’t work at all. I liked the two main characters just fine but thought all the other characters were very weak. The “doll part”, while a favorite scene for some, didn’t work for me. It’s the kind of dumb scene that modern teens would bitch about in an Eighties movie such as Better Off Dead. We were making dumb scenes like that before today’s teenagers were born! And, as much as I hate to say it as I adore Carrie Fisher, I thought Billie Lourd’s character was ridiculous. I’m not saying it’s her fault – I just didn’t like the character. Never mind that she’s clearly ten years older than any high school student I’ve ever seen but, okay, I know this has always been a thing in “teen” movies all the way back to Grease. I was just confused as I honestly didn’t realize she was a fellow student at first. As I said, though, I liked the two main characters just fine and thought that Kaitlyn Dever & Beanie Feldstein were funny and very believable as best friends. They’re what made the movie better overall. I truly did want to love this but I’m always very picky when it comes to comedy. I enjoyed it but, admittedly, I’m getting further & further away from being the target audience for a teen film. I’m glad that teenagers do seem to be loving it and fully understand why. It’s a good teen comedy. I even admit that it’s a far better film than some of the very dodgy teen movies I liked in the Eighties. But it’s certainly no Stand By Me. Or even Better Off Dead

My Rating: 7/10

Red Dawn (2012), People Like Us & We’re The Millers Movie Reviews

Here’s another trio of super short reviews of movies that I watched two years ago & barely remember now! What’s the point, you ask? Well, it’s annoying me that they’re still sitting HERE on my list of Movies Watched In 2014 without reviews attached to them. So, let’s get this over with. One paragraph each! Don’t expect any in-depth analysis. Not that you ever get that from this blog anyway… 😉

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Red Dawn (2012)

Directed by Dan Bradley

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise, Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers.

My Opinion:

Wow. It’s bad enough that so many pointless remakes keep getting made but it’s especially frustrating when they’re complete & utter shit like this Red Dawn remake. Don’t worry – I’m not going to be all “They shouldn’t have touched Red Dawn because the original is a classic!” since that was never an absolute favorite of mine & I’m not all precious about it like I am with a lot of other 80’s movies. But why take a mediocre movie & remake it into something 1,000 times worse?? Oh well! I only watched this because sexy Chris Hemsworth is in it (with his short hair – I prefer him that way). I don’t remember now who lives & who dies but I do remember completely losing interest and not giving a shit about any of the characters. I also remember that I watched this just after getting Netflix & they seemed to have a horrible selection back then (it’s much better now) so I wasted too much time on shit like this & that stupid ATM movie. Speaking of which, that weird little Josh Peck was in that one as well. He had a really bad year for movies between Red Dawn & ATM! Screw Red Dawn. Screw ATM. You know what Josh Peck movie was actually pretty good? Mean Creek. Just watch that instead. Don’t watch this. Not even for short hair Chris Hemsworth. He looks the same in The Cabin In The Woods & that’s much better. Do a double feature of Mean Creek & The Cabin In The Woods! Don’t watch Red Dawn.

My Rating: 3.5/10

People Like Us (2012)

Directed by Alex Kurtzman

Starring: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Michael Hall D’Addario, Michelle Pfeiffer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While settling his recently deceased father’s estate, a salesman discovers he has a sister whom he never knew about, leading both siblings to re-examine their perceptions about family and life choices.

My Opinion:

This was a decent movie – I’m not sure why I never reviewed it. Movies about family relationships don’t always appeal to me but this one, where Chris Pine finds out that he has a half-sister & nephew he never knew about, worked pretty well. I can’t stand Chris Pine but really like Elizabeth Banks plus the boy who played her son (Michael Hall D’Addario) was good so that helped. Oh! And Michelle Pfeiffer was in this too as Pine’s mother – love her. It was partly based on the life of the director, who first met his half-sister at the age of 30, so it probably also helped that the script was based on personal experience. I also liked this little bit of trivia HERE about the music memorabilia of Pine’s musician father in the film belonging to the record producer father of one of the script’s writers:

Much of the music business memorabilia in the “Jerry’s Study” set belongs to Jody Lambert’s father Dennis Lambert, a Songwriter’s Hall of Fame nominee whose hits as writer and/or producer include “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got)”, “Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Baby Come Back” and “Nightshift”.

Anyway, People Like Us isn’t going to change the world but it’s the type of movie that’s perfect to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Good performances from those involved & I liked the story.

My Rating: 6.5/10

We’re The Millers (2013)

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Molly Quinn, Ed Helms

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A veteran pot dealer creates a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico.

My Opinion:

This movie is really not my type of thing and I don’t know why I watched it. I think I just wanted a simple movie on while I did stuff around the house plus I think I still kind of live in the hope that a modern comedy may actually turn out to be funny. Nope! This is yet another stupid modern “comedy” that failed to make me even crack a smile. Maybe I’m just old & bitter since I’ve liked hardly any comedy films since 1992? Comedy isn’t my favorite genre but I think the fact that so few movies are ever actually funny anymore is to blame for me going off the genre in recent years. Wait! I may have cracked a tiny smile when Will Poulter’s balls were bitten by a spider & they swelled up to an unnatural size while the movie showed us his whole package in gory detail. That was brave of Poulter as I’m sure a lot of people think “spider balls!” anytime they seen him in anything now. Although, I’m pretty sure we were seeing stunt balls. How does one get a job as a stunt penis? Anyway, maybe this movie wasn’t crude enough for me if that’s the only memorable part for me. I mean, I do like the Jackass movies & Bad Grandpa so, what the hell, I can’t figure out my taste in comedy. But I thought We’re The Millers was shit. Except for spider balls being mildly funny…

My Rating: 4/10

Epic (2013) Review

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Epic

Directed by Chris Wedge

Based on The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs
by William Joyce

Starring Voice Actors:
Amanda Seyfried
Colin Farrell
Beyoncé Knowles
Josh Hutcherson
Christoph Waltz
Aziz Ansari
Chris O’Dowd
Pitbull
Jason Sudeikis
Steven Tyler

Music by Danny Elfman

Studio:
Blue Sky Studios
20th Century Fox Animation

Plot (courtesy of Wikipedia):

A girl named Mary Katherine (M.K), long separated from her father, Professor Bomba, visits him in his old house near a forest, where he lives with his dog, Ozzie. Bomba has long studied the artifacts of what he believes to be a group of tiny warriors who live in the forest and protect it. He often goes into the forest to look for them and has cameras everywhere, in hopes of confirming their existence. He is so involved with his work that he neglects M.K., resulting in her leaving and pasting a goodbye note to one of his monitors. As she is leaving, Ozzie knocks past her and runs into the woods. M.K. sets out to look for him. She comes upon a group of glowing, falling leaves. Catching one of them, she is suddenly shrunken. In her minuscule state, she discovers the group of warriors Bomba has studied, who are known as the Leafmen. Soon she is forced to assist them in a war against forces of rot known as the Boggans and their leader Mandrake, while trying to find out how to return home.

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My Opinion:

I won’t again go into my love for Pixar and how they make truly stunning films for people of all ages – I don’t see them as just “kid movies”. Studios other than Disney/Pixar, however, have yet to master keeping the adults as well as the kids entertained. Despicable Me (love it!) and Shrek (meh) have been a couple of the only non-Pixar movies that I think achieved this. Epic doesn’t even come close to “keeping the adults entertained too” so I’ll review this for what it is: a kid’s movie.

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Epic is a strange one because I think the story is a bit complicated and the fact that the main character is a teenage girl makes this movie feel like it’s aimed at kids (girls especially) aged 8-13 or so. But this doesn’t seem like the sort of movie that kids these sort of ages WANT to see these days. There are some okay characters for the much younger audience (the snail & the slug are fairly funny) but I think younger kids will be a bit confused by the plot. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure who this movie is aimed at but I know I was really bored. I saw this four days ago and I’m struggling to remember much about it in order to be able to write anything. This is one of those movies I’m going to completely forget about in a year.

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The movie takes quite a while to get going and the pacing of the entire thing was off. We see a lot of the teenage girl and her estranged father at the beginning as she comes to stay with and reconnect with him. It seemed like ages before we got to the bit where she finally sees the tiny Leafmen. Yet in that time they still didn’t manage to make you feel anything for the father & daughter and for their situation – they didn’t develop any sort of connection with each other. I thought the teenage girl also adjusted to suddenly being tiny and in the middle of this epic “tiny person battle” a little too quickly. Of course, there’s a hot teenage Leafman so, naturally, I’m sure that helped. 😉

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As I said, the slug and snail were fairly funny (not good Pixar-type funny but typical kid-movie funny) so they were probably the highlight of the film for me. I guess. I found the voices of Beyonce and especially Steven Tyler a bit distracting (but, hey, kids wouldn’t notice things like that). But it reminded me of how much I hated Steven Tyler’s voice suddenly being in Polar Express and totally throwing me out of that movie (not that I was too bothered as I didn’t like that one much anyway). The teenage girl is fine as the main character – I think young girls watching the movie will probably connect with her. The dad was a bit of a bumbling idiot. The teenage Leafman was fine and the older Leafman who’s in charge was fine – these characters and the “baddies” (and the slug and snail) help to make this a movie that boys should like too even though the main character is female. There are also a lot of battles as there’s this war of good vs evil going on so I don’t mean to make it sound like this is a girl’s movie – sometimes boys see a girl as the main character and think that makes something a girl’s movie.

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Summary:

Epic is a movie where the plot is a bit too complicated for the very young but the slightly older child audience it seems to be aimed at will probably not find much they’ll care about in the film. I think older girls will connect with the main teenage girl, younger boys will like the Leafmen, the battles & the fairly scary bad guys, and the very young will like the slug and the snail. The whole thing was pretty and the animation was good and all that but I don’t think any of that is going to matter to the adults in the audience who will be checking their watches and just enjoying a bit of peace while their kids are (hopefully!) quiet and sitting still for 1 hour and 42 minutes. Meh. It’s not horrible. But it’s not that good. It’s aimed at kids but I don’t think this rating is too unfair as I don’t think many kids will exactly consider this one of their all-time favorite films…

My Rating: 5.5/10

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For a slightly better recent film aimed at kids, I did enjoy The Croods a bit more. Review here: The Croods

**And for those disappointed that there are no “underwear” pictures in this post, the closest I can think of is a picture of the character voiced by Steven Tyler. He wears a robe the whole time. With nothing underneath. And fully open. Close enough??

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